While you may not be fortunate enough to grow tropical plants outdoors in your garden, you can still enjoy the best brightly colored tropical flowers as cut flowers in vases in your home. Many tropical cut flowers, if cut from plants with waxy, fleshy stems, tend to last for weeks as vase flowers. If you live in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 10 and warmer, you likely can grow these tropicals outdoors and harvest their blooms as you please.
Pick an open hibiscus flower to place behind your ear or to rest in a shallow dish of water or short vase to enjoy the multi-colored petals. Keep in mind the tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) blossom stays open for 24 to 30 hours before forever shriveling and closing.
A traditional flower used to make strings of leis to wear around your neck, frangipani (Plumeria rubra) flowers are also sweetly fragrant. Vibrant cultivars of frangipani produce golden yellow, bright pink, deep red or multi-colored rose, yellow and red blossoms. Float the blossoms in a dish of water alongside hibiscus blossoms or use as a head ornament.
Thousands of orchids hail from the tropics, but the more common species used as singular corsage orchids or spray-stems for flower arrangements are from the botanical groups named Cattleya, Oncidium, Dendrobium, Laelia, Cymbidium, Vanda and Phalaenopsis. Colors include all except black, emerald green and true blue.
Large, elongated clusters of red or pink bracts occur on stem tips of red ginger (Alpinia purpurata). Torch ginger (Etlingera elatior) flowers are more rounded with flame-like bracts that protrude outward, ranging in color from red to pink or coral-salmon. Golden-orange to bright yellow flower bracts that look like pine cones develop on beehive or shampoo gingers (Zingiber spectabile).
Large, waxy flower bracts that look like parrot beaks comprise the botanical group of tropical plants known as heliconias. In fact, other common names include parrot's beak, false bird-of-paradise and lobster claws. Both upright flowers and large dangling types are found in this group, ranging in color from pink to red, orange and yellow.
Perhaps one of the most recognized subtropical flowers from South Africa is the bird-of-paradise (Strelitzia reginae). Its flower stalk carries a boat-like spathe with petals colored in orange, purple and gold.
Large, heart-shaped, waxy flowers with a white, finger-like spadix describes the blooms of flamingo lilies (Anthurium spp.). Colors range from traditional blood red to creamy white, pink and swirling multi-colored forms.